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advance. A number of less developed countries are now making rapid socio-economic advance and almost all are making some progress, though not as rapidly as desired.
As noted above, the birth rate in the less developed regions fell little, if at all, in the first half of the 1960's. Was there a downturn in the latter half of the decade? Does past experience offer guidelines for judging the probable future course of natality in these regions? The information now available is too fragmentary to permit final answers to these questions. But some preliminary answers may be gleaned from an examination of the validity of the following propositions:
1. Reduction of the birth rate is now occuring widely among peoples of very different cultural backgrounds and ways of life in the less developed regions.
2. Historically there is an acceleration of the rate at which countries move through the demographic transition from high to low birth rates.
3. The higher the natality at the time of entering the transition, the more rapid the rate of the decline.
4. A certain threshold and "mix" of socioeconomic development has been a requirement for initiating a strong downward trend in natality; this threshold and mix of socioeconomic variables is different within the major cultural regions (i.e., east and southeast Asia, the Islamic countries, Latin America, and tropical Africa).
Though the subject is outside the scope of this paper, it is assumed that vigorous government population policies may accelerate reduction of the birth rate and possibly initiate such reduction at an earlier stage of socio-economic development than would otherwise occur.
THE DICHOTOMY IN WORLD NATALITY BEFORE 1960
Experience after World War II and in the 1950's was discouraging with reference to the first proposition. By 1960 one-third of the world's population had relatively low birth rates (under 25 per 1,000) and two thirds lived in countries having high birth rates (over 35 per 1,000). Very few countries fell between, and even fewer could be viewed as "in transition."
A high level of social and economic development has universally been accompanied by a reduction of natality. Relatively low birth rates were the rule in the so-called "developed" world in 1960 and are even more so today. With few exceptions annual birth rates by 1968 were below 20 births per 1,000 population in the developed countries of Europe, the Soviet Union, Japan, Australasia, and northern America.* By contrast, birth rates are generally twice as high in the less developed countries.ct the present less developed countries to follow the experience of western countries in reduction of the birth rate. This must occur if there is to be a humane solution of problems of population growth. There is general agreement that birth rates will drop if these countries achieve major socioeconomic